Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Completing the Sewanee Creek Trail and Enjoying its Features

In early Spring 2019, I completed the Sewanee Creek Trail from the top of the bluff near the 'Triple Castle' rock outcropping all the way down to Sewanee Creek (about a 400' drop in elevation from 1,800' to 1,400').  Soon thereafter, I found an easier path to the creek from about 2/3 of the way down, going westward to the creek, thus creating what has become (at least for me) a commonly-used loop toward the bottom...a gentle way down and a steep way back up to where the two paths split.

Castle #2
Cool features of the Sewanee Creek Trail include the 'Triple Castle' feature at the outset.  This feature consists of three rock outcroppings end-to-end that can be negotiated, with the last (3rd) outcropping providing an incredible view of the entire Sewanee Creek Gulf. I have taken visitors to, and personally photographed the Triple Castle feature on several occasions.
Gary Stephes and Joe Nerio (hiking friends)
Castle #3

Rock Shelter from Creek
Easy-route view of Creek
There is the trail itself, that passes through multiple bluff regions, a substantial rock field, large trees (featuring, among other species, large hemlock and beech trees in abundance), a cave-like rock shelter (steep route) and a lower flat area from which the Creek can be easily viewed (easy route).

Cave on opposite side of Creek
Close up view of entrance area
There is a substantial cave on the opposite side of the Creek waiting to be explored.

There is the 'island', that is special in and of itself.

The "Island"

There is the stream of water that flows out of the the side of the mountain, that, during dry periods, exhibits greater flow than Sewanee Creek, itself.

Grant Miller observing stream flowing from inside the mountain

Sewanee Creek funneled
Same creek bed during dry season
There is 'the narrows,' where the stream is funneled, and the floor of the stream consists of large smooth slabs of rock, jigsaw puzzled together, creating a table-top stream bed.

There is so much more to explore, both upstream and downstream.  I have done some exploration, and plan to do much more in the future.

Creating additional trails leading to Sewanee Creek, and ultimately connecting to the trail I have already built, could be done.  I'm thinking primarily of Miller Creek downstream, and the Creek on Lot #21 upstream, both of which feed into Sewanee Creek and both of which have substantial waterfalls that would make these additional trails highly desirable.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Fiery Gizzard Trail

The 12.5-mi Fiery Gizzard Trail that goes the full distance between Tracy City and Foster Falls, is one of the best known trails on the Cumberland Plateau.  It received national attention after being ranked one of the top 25 hiking trails in North America by Backpacker Magazine.

My hiking buddy, Freddie Roberts
On the Tracy City end, the Fiery Gizzard Trail features a 2-mi day loop route, which Judy and I have hiked several times with visitors, and I have hiked with friends.  Going to the left from the trail head, The main Fiery Gizzard Trail promptly descends, goes under an impressive overhang feature, passes by some 300-500 year old hemlock trees, and follows the Little Fiery Gizzard River to the point where the Little and Big Fiery Gizzard Rivers converge.  The main trail crosses the river, and continues to follow the Fiery Gizzard River.

Sycamore Falls
 Going to the right from the trail head, the trail stays on the top for about 0.9 mi before it descends, then follows the Big Fiery Gizzard River after the descent forming the complete loop where the two rivers converge to become the Fiery Gizzard River.   Hikers commonly hike to Blue Hole Falls (Little Fiery Gizzard R.), Haines Hole Falls (Big Fiery Gizzard R.) both on the day loop route, and/or to Sycamore Falls (L), which is on the Fiery Gizzard River 1.3 mi from the trail head and 0.6 mi beyond the day loop trail.

Ravens Point
A much more ambitious loop on the Fiery Gizzard Trail begins about 0.2 mi beyond Sycamore Falls where the trail splits, and ultimately re-unites roughly 3.0 miles later, near Ravens Point, a very scenic lookout.  The named Fiery Gizzard Trail follows the the river and is classified as strenuous, whereas the Dog Hole Trail, which promptly goes up to the top of the bluff, is as easy as a "walk in the park," once on top.  The only time I have hiked to Ravens Point was on February 27, 2019.  I used the Dog Hole Trail in both directions, though I had initially planned to do the loop.  The trail was longer than I had initially realized, and I was pretty well worn out by the time I got to Ravens Point, so I was in no mood to take on the much more strenuous and technically difficult trail route going back.